Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks came into tonight’s game against Washington State trying to recover from one of their worst losses in the Dana Altman era. On Saturday they lost to a Cal team that had lost ten games in a row prior to a 2-point win at Oregon State. They let Cal go on a 24-point scoring run early in the first half and never seriously threatened after that. Tonight, Oregon put in a spotty but improved performance and escaped with a 62-59 win. N’Faly Dante led the Ducks with 13 points and ten rebounds. De’Vion Harmon also scored 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Michael Flowers led the Cougars with 23 points, shooting 8-of-21 including 4-of-14 on 3s.
The game started with poor long-distance shooting by both teams as the teams missed a combined 14 straight 3s before Oregon’s Eric Williams Jr. connected. Oregon’s offense came around some with Dante showing some energy scoring inside on post-ups and rebounding effectively. Dante ended the half with nine points and six rebounds in 12 minutes. Will Richardson, in a shooting slump the last two games, elected to try to set up his teammates rather than shoot. He only took one first half shot and dished out four assists. Oregon shot 3-of-12 from deep in the half. The Cougars has their own offensive troubles, missing their first nine 3s. Noah Williams (12 points) and Flowers (11 points) picked up the slack later in the half to get Washington State within six points (35-29) at the halftime break, Williams connected on both his three-point attempts but the Cougars only shot 3-of-13 overall from beyond the arc.
The Ducks started the second half in one of their scoring droughts that have become common this year. They missed their first eight shots of the half, committed two turnovers and didn’t score for over six minutes. The Cougars scored the first ten points of the half to take a four-point lead. A Harmon three-pointer broke the string and pulled the Ducks to within one point. The Cougars went ahead by five points but the Oregon then went on a seven-point run highlighted by a Quincy Guerrier dunk off a nice feed from Jacob Young to take a 45-43 lead. They extended their lead to 55-50 on a Franck Kepnang dunk off a pass from Guerrier. Kepnang then came up with a block and then hustled down the court to score off an assist by Richardson. A corner three from Richardson gave Oregon on nine-point lead and should have clinched the win.
However, the Cougars’ Flowers connected on a three-pointer after Washington State gathered two offensive rebounds. Then after a bad inbounds pass by Harmon, Flowers hit another three to bring the Cougars within three points. Guerrier then missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Cougars a last chance to tie the game. A Flowers three-pointer with three seconds remaining rolled out but the Cougars got yet another offensive rebound and an Efi Abogidi three missed at the buzzer as Oregon escaped with the win.
Young tried to get Oregon’s offense going aggressively picking up the pace and was effective in generating quick opportunities. In a game where Richardson was generally not looking for opportunities to score that was important. Young scored nine points on 4-of-9 shooting, making his only three-point attempt and added four assists and four rebounds. The Ducks received solid play from both their bigs. Dante finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds over 20 minutes while Kepnang was active with nine points, two rebounds and four big blocks in 20 minutes. He ran the floor hard and was rewarded twice with transition baskets.
Both teams shot poorly throughout the game. Washington State hoisted 33 three-pointers and made only eight (24.2%). Oregon was not much better, making 5-of-19 (26.2%) from deep. They also only made 7-of-14 free throws. The Ducks entered the game 312th in the country in free throw percentage. The Cougars stayed in the game with their offensive rebounding (22-12 advantage) that resulted in a 21-8 edge in second chance points.
Oregon (17-8, 10-4) will head to Arizona to face Arizona State on Thursday and Arizona on Saturday.